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December 23, 2003

Shrine Bowl stars: North Carolina

While attending the recent North-South Carolina Shrine Bowl, Rivals.com scouted the top 10 weekly performers for the North Carolina "Tar Heel" team.

With the defensive dominance of the North Carolina team, there is no doubt about the No. 1 performer...

1) LB Dannell Ellerbe -- Ellerbe, who is still uncommitted but seems to be leaning towards Clemson or Tennessee, has all the tools to play several positions on the defensive side of the ball. His natural position is weakside linebacker, but with his speed and quickness he would have no trouble at all playing as a safety. Great footwork and timing off the ball allows Ellerbe to wreak havoc in opposing team's backfield. Ellerbe turned in these type plays time and time again on Saturday, making play after play. Early in the game, as South Carolina was driving, Ellerbe made a great read on the quarterback and stepped in to pick off a pass in the flat. Later, he exploded off the end to take down a South Carolina running back for a 10-yard loss. Play after play, Ellerbe was in the South Carolina backfield. Late in the game, as South Carolina had scored to make the game close and was attempting a two-point conversion, Ellerbe showed off his vertical as he deflected the attempted pass. You want sacks? There were a total of three for Ellerbe along with the total of nine tackles. There was no doubt who was the Defensive MVP of the game.

2) RB Andre Brown -- The game's Offensive MVP, Brown is the definition of an all-purpose running back. Brown has the speed to hit the slightest opening in the line and the power to run over opponents. A steady dose of Brown proved to much on this day for the South Carolina defense. Very much a powerful runner who will not be brought down with a simple arm tackle, Brown gained 122 yards on 16 carries for his "Tar Heel" team. It was a day of "Brown for 5 yards", "Brown for 7 more", "Brown for 6 yards" and then "Brown for 26 and a touchdown". A great talent who will make some college very happy for several years to come.

3) RB Jamaal Edwards -- A solid commitment to Florida State (who was on hand to watch their prized running back), Edwards has excellent all-around skills. If Edwards had to be defined for his best attribute, it would be his footwork. Nice vision and great footwork allow Edwards to read and react, thereby getting himself out of the toughest situations. Watching him take the corner of the line, getting a cornerback one-on-one and beating him is fun to watch. A word to cornerbacks in the ACC, be careful or you will find yourself grasping at air. Nice hands out of the backfield make him a great all-purpose back. Put it together with the vision and you see why he went for 88 yards on 11 carries Saturday afternoon.

4) DE Hilee Taylor -- This University of North Carolina commitment is just an all-around good young man -- a pleasant person to talk with and an outstanding player to watch. Taylor, much like Ellerbe, is a player who could play several defensive spots at the next level, he's just an exceptional athlete. Hilee uses his athletic ability to beat the man across from him on a routine basis. Quick off the ball and with great speed, there is not anything this talent cannot do. From the first minute of the game to the final seconds, Hilee went full speed and non-stop, creating havoc all afternoon. One of the most crucial plays Taylor made was late in the game, as North Carolina had just turned the ball over. The very first play South Carolina ran after the turnover, Hilee came from the backside to strip the South Carolina running back of the ball, giving possession right back to the North Carolina offensive ground game. In the end, Taylor was credited with five total tackles on the day and one sack. A very active day for the defensive end, especially in an all-star game where he wasn't able to play full-time.

5) RB Trimane Goddard -- Goddard was used primarily as a wing back/slot receiver for the North Carolina squad the entire week and, once Saturday afternoon came, many people saw why. A great all-around talent who can do it all with the football, Goddard had a nose for the end zone on Saturday scoring two of the teams three touchdowns. Trimane hooked up with quarterback Davon Drew for the first score of the game, a beautiful corner of the end zone 11-yard touchdown reception. Shaking the defender, Goddard showed his athletic ability to get his feet inbounds for the catch. Later in the game, he showed his pure speed off for the crowd. Coming around the end from a wingback slot, he outraced both the safety and the corner for a four-yard touchdown run. Very much an all-purpose back who has great speed, hands and footwork, Goddard is also a dangerous weapon coming out of the backfield in a passing game. The scariest part? He's better as a cornerback.

6) S Jamar Adams -- It was Adams who sent the tone for the game early. On the third play after the opening kickoff, Adams read the South Carolina quarterback all the way and stepped in front of the would-be receiver to make the interception, giving his North Carolina squad the early momentum. That was about all the South Carolina team needed to see of Adams, as they stayed away from the middle of the field the rest of the game. A big, strong player, Adams is a great playmaker. Very much a prototypical safety, Adams has the potential to be very special at the next level. He has the size, speed, vision and heart to do it all.

7) DT Marque Hall -- Hall came into Shrine Bowl week looking very trim and super quick for a defensive lineman. Down to 285 pounds, Marque showed great footwork and agility for a defensive tackle. He uses his quickness and defensive moves to shed offensive lineman and stop-gap the middle of the line. After dominating at times early on, Hall began to draw some double teams later in the game. However, he still was not to be denied his stops in the backfield (two sacks on the day, with five total tackles). The South Carolina offensive game plan was to roll out the quarterback on most all plays. However, even then No. 79 was seen making plays from behind. A great talent, who will help someone's defensive line in 2004.

8) LB Quentin Cotton -- Cotton proved to be a great attribute to the solid linebacking core assembled by the North Carolina squad. A tall, rangy athlete who can do it all -- from stepping up to stop the run, or dropping back in coverage, Cotton is a nice all-around linebacker. It was Cotton's big play late in the game that proved to be huge. As South Carolina was trying to get back into the game, Cotton would have no part of it. Dropping back into coverage and reading the quarterback, Quentin stepped up to make a huge interception to silence the South Carolina fans. Not only did Cotton make the interception, but he used his speed to return it 24 yards before he was finally chased down by a South Carolina wide receiver.

9) LB Chase Bullock -- Another member of the great group of North Carolina's linebackers, Bullock proved to be a big, physical linebacker with the talent to control the middle of the field. His strength and leverage give him the ability to shed the blocks of interior offensive lineman or lead running backs, and make big plays. Bullock finished the day with a total of four tackles but was much more active than the stats show. It didn't take the South Carolina team long to figure out there were no yards to be had in the middle of the field so, in an effort to try and negate players like Bullock, they tried to keep most everything to the outside. However, even when teams try to take him out of the play, Bullock still finds a way to get his number called.

10) RB Andrew Pearman -- A member of the great North Carolina running back quartet, Pearman is the type of player who could play several positions not only on offense, but on defense too. With his great speed and talent, Andrew has the ability to play any skill position on the field. On the week, Pearman was used much like Trimane Goddard in the role of wing-back, slot receiver. Pearman possess nice vision to go with his speed, making him a great threat in the open field. Coming out of the backfield or out in the flat, he is a very dangerous in one-on-one situations.

Special thanks to Andy Crouch for contributing to this report.





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